This comic is based on the classic Japanese fairytale of Momotaro, the boy born out of a peach. Some people like to compare it to the story of “James and the Giant Peach”, but aside from both having a giant peach and a boy, these stories are nothing a like.
My goal in creating this comic was simple: Take a fairytale, and tell it better.
But first, let's talk about how this story traditionally goes.
(Don't worry, it won't ruin the comic)
Once upon a time, there lived an old man and an old woman in the mountains. They had no children of their own, despite wanting them. One day when the old woman was washing clothes by the river, she saw a giant peach floating towards her. Delighted, she took it home to share with her husband for dinner. To both of their surprise, when they cut open the peach, inside they found a tiny baby. The gods had finally answered their prayers, and they named the boy “Momotaro”, meaning “Peach Boy”.
Momotaro grew up to be a strapping young man and a good son. One day, news spreads that demons (“oni”) had been attacking their village. Brave Momotaro informs his parents that he will go to defeat them himself. They bid him a tearful goodbye, sending him off with some millet dumplings (“kibidango”) that his mother had made for him.
Along the way to Oni Island, where the demon fortress lay, Momotaro happens upon 3 animals, whom he befriends: a monkey, a pheasant, and a dog. Each of them tell Momotaro, “If you give me one kibidango, I will help you defeat the demons!” to which Momotaro happily gives them each a dumpling. Together, the three of them find Oni Island and defeat the demons. They return to the village, bringing back riches that the demons had stolen.
Blah, blah, everyone lives happily ever after.
My lifelong dream has been to write a graphic novel. But it turns out, those are hard to make, and if you add procrastination and a little imposter syndrome to the mix, it never gets done.
But our biggest dreams have a way of never being totally forgotten. They keep us up at night and tug on our sleeves until we notice them again. And if we’re able to fold up our fears and put them away neatly in a drawer, we can give these dreams a real chance. So that’s what I did.
I wasn’t naive about it though. I’d come up with countless stories before, but I’d never finished any. So instead of coming up with my own story, I thought, what if I just borrowed an existing story and made it better?
I chose the story of Momotaro for largely sentimental reasons. It was my first ever Japanese fairytale, and in my star-struck anime days of middle school, I was enamored to know such a tale. I don't actually think it's a particularly interesting story, but that's made the challenge more fun.
I knew that if I let myself change the story too much, I would quickly get carried away and overcomplicate things. Instead, I decided to focus on the characters and environment.
While the original story takes place in old samurai times, the story itself was popularized during WWII, and the brave peach boy became something of an icon for Japanese nationalism during that time. The oni in the story became a metaphor for the Americans, and Momotaro the symbol of courage and patriotism.
In my version, the story takes place in post-WWII Japan. The country has been devastated by war, and is slowly rebuilding. You see most characters wearing western fashion, including Momotaro himself. The setting is a modernizing Japan, evolving away from its roots.
In the original story, Momotaro doesn’t really have any flaws. He’s brave, kind and hardworking. What more could you want? Well, a lot, in my opinion. Perfect people make terrible main characters.
In my version, Momotaro is a disillusioned teenager. Jaded from a lifetime of being teased as the “Peach Boy” who believed his parent’s “fairytales” about his birth, he lives as a bit of a social outcast, not feeling accepted by his village nor his parents (who continue to insist that the story is true).
My story is one of self-discovery, forgiveness, and the courage to face one’s true self. In a modernizing Japan, my story is a journey to the past, back to magic, and all the childhood wonder we hide away as adults.
You'll find that I did make a few plot tweaks, but I won't spoil them for you here. You'll just have to read the comic to find out.